Titanic News for December 7-8 2013

wreath1. Titanic Belfast is having Christmas and New Year’s events. The Christmas Afternoon Teas and Christmas Party Nights are already sold out. But the Christmas Lunch (20 Dec), New Year’s Eve Party and New Year’s Day Afternoon Tea are still available. For description of the events and to book tickets, go to titanicbelfast.com.

2. How did Harrison Okene live for three days inside a sunken ship off the coast of Nigeria? LiveScience took a look into it and has some fascinating details on how he–and others–have been lucky enough to survive and get rescued.
Here’s How That Cook Survived Inside Sunken Ship For Three Days (4 Dec 2013,Live Science)

3. Those who study Titanic usually learn there were black passengers aboard Titanic yet it is largely unknown. The information is not hard to come by but one has to go looking for it writes Herbert Dyer. And he wonders why in all the Titanic movies they are not shown in any capacity. One reason, just off the top of my head, is I doubt they knew. The names of the famous who died or survived were known. But few bothered to read down the passenger lists to find out the details. Certainly racism plays a factor in some cases. Hollywood movies made during the 1930’s that were marketed world-wide were scrubbed purposefully of anyone unacceptable to Nazi Germany (Jews, blacks, and anything that criticized in any way fascism) until the U.S. was in WW II. The Germans had more influence than the Soviet Union in that regard (they tried to get Hollywood writers and actors to do more films that supported Moscow but were mostly unsuccessful and many did not like the authoritarian way Moscow ran things). Hollywood is better these days on these issues but James Cameron’s movie, as far I can recall, had no depiction of black passengers on Titanic so education needs to be ongoing in this regard.
The Only Black Passengers Aboard The Titanic(5 Dec 2013, allvoices.com)

Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas, the real Santa Claus

St_ NicholasSt. Nick is often used as another name for Santa Claus but in truth Nicholas is the original. Born in the third century a.d., Nicholas became well known for his charity to children and others. He was imprisoned by the Romans and beaten. He never renounced his faith. Later when released when Constantine became emperor, he continued his life serving God and his faith. He lived to be a very old man dying on 6 December 343. Stories of his charity to children and others spread and long after his death people still revered him with churches built in his name. Stories of miracles attributed to him emerged as well.

The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran churches all have his feast day on their calendars (those using the Julian calendar celebrate it on 19 December). The Roman Catholic Church did not strip him of being a saint. Until 1968, every saint had a feast day that had to be celebrated in every diocese. What they did was make certain feast days optional and allow each diocese to decide whether to celebrate it or not. St. Nicholas is an optional feast day so it is up to the diocese to decide.

Stories of a mythical gift giver (often from pagan beliefs like forest elves that leave presents for nice kids) became popular in many European countries and were imported to the U.S. Various aspects from German, Dutch, and English were blended to create the character–the commercial character–of Santa Claus. There is no connection between St. Nicholas and the modern day character that lives in the North Pole, has flying reindeer, and elves to make toys. Santa Claus is a purely secular and even by some standards a pagan creation with no connection to St.Nicholas or Christianity. Remember that when someone says Santa Claus ought to be banned because is based on a religious figure.

For further information about St.Nicholas, go to Saint Nicholas Center.

By the way, there is a resurgence in celebrating the feast day. Usually children get treats (in stockings or boots) and often kicks off the Christmas season.

So what do you think? Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas?

Caltrain Holiday Train This Weekend

The Caltrain Holiday Train is back and makes its annual ride this weekend–December 7 and 8–down to select stations on the peninsula. As always, the train is decked out for the event with Santa Claus running the show. There is music and donations of unwrapped toys for Toys For Tots and the Salvation Army are accepted. On both days there is a show in San Francisco 4th & King Station starting at 4pm before the train departs south. On Saturday the Holiday Train will visit Burlingame, Redwood City, Palo Alto (California Ave), and Santa Clara. On Sunday it visits Millbrae, San Mateo, Menlo Park, and Sunnyvale. For times and other information, go to Caltrain or Holiday-Train.org.

Sadly San Bruno is not part of this as in past years. Hopefully next year it will at the new station!


6 Foot Titanic Model For Sale On eBay

David Weeden had a passion for history according to his wife, and had a special place in his heart for Titanic. He and his wife owned a Mini Mall in Vienna, New York where vendors sold collectibles and antiques. He liked to add things for people to see when they entered and struck gold in 2004. He purchased a six foot AC Erector Set Model of Titanic. And he proudly displayed it at the entrance to the Mini Mall for six years. It was put together in the 1930’s and has figurines on it showing them walking, strolling, exercising, or possibly doing some ship work.

His wife said that he loved to display it and gave kids books about Titanic. He had plans for the model since it lights up at the bottom. “He wanted to put little scenes in there, different compartments, different stories behind it. But, of course, he took sick and wasn’t able to complete his plans that he had for it,” said Doreen Weeden. David Weeden passed away in August at age 71 of cancer. Despite his attachment to it, the family is auctioning it off on eBay. At last check, the current bid is $265 and bidding continues till 7 Dec. You can see the bidding page here.

It really is a neat looking model and is 72 inches long, 10 inches wide, 25 inches tall and weighs 50 pounds. Perhaps a Titanic collector or one of the Titanic themed museums out there might want to consider this an addition to their display.

Source: Selling A Man’s Treasure(2 Dec 2013,YNN)

Caltrain Softens Rule About Writing Fare Evasion Citations

CaltrainAbout a year ago Caltrain took away conductor discretion when issuing fare evasion citations ordering them to write up violators and let a judge decide whether it was right or wrong. It was criticized at the time as draconian by some but Caltrain said it was necessary since they had a barrier free system. And also that enough time had passed for people to become familiar with using Clipper. Discretion though meant the conductor could decide on their own whether writing a ticket was actually needed. Perhaps it was someone new to the system or got the wrong ticket. If they see the person a lot on the train, it might just be a one time thing and get a warning. The fare evasion ticket is $300 plus whatever court fees or other fees that may be imposed.

That policy appears to be over. In the fall 2013 edition of
Caltrain Connection, an official publication of Caltrain, in the question and answer section about fare evasion tickets is this:

Q: On two separate occasions I’ve been on Caltrain and
have witnessed two conductors not issuing citations to
riders that did not have proof of payment. Why do some
people get warnings while others get citations?

A: Conductors have the authority to issue a citation to
any customer without a valid fare. However, they also are
allowed to use discretion when issuing citations depending
on the circumstances. As a barrier-free transit system,
it’s important to check fares and issue citations as

One wonders whether someone over at the court dropped them a line about all the citations showing up from Caltrain. Or simply wiser heads prevailed. At any rate, giving the conductors back the discretion is a good thing. They can usually discern if it is an honest mistake or someone trying to get a free ride.

Titanic News for 2 Dec 2013

Here are some news stories that close out November.

1. Woman Shares Family’s Titanic Tale With Tenth Street Students(30 Nov 2013,Times Leader)
Students in fourth grade at the Tenth Street Elementary School were treated to a guest speaker recently. The students learned about the events of the sinking of the Titanic from Mae Thomas.Thomas, a child of a Titanic survivor, shared her mother and infant brother’s survival story aboard the Titanic, along with many other stories.

2. Belfast’s Odyssey Gets Go-Ahead For Extension That Could Create 1,000 Jobs(29 Nov 2013,Belfast Telegraph)
Odyssey Trust’s plans to build next to the existing Odyssey Arena and Pavilion come just weeks after Belfast Harbour won planning permission for an office development at City Quays. With an application lodged by Titanic Quarter Ltd for yet another development, the entire Belfast Harbour area is set for a major growth spurt. The scheme has space for nearly 800 apartments, two hotels, shops, cafes, bars and restaurants and “community and cultural use” space, according to planners Turley Associates, which acts for Odyssey Trust.

Photo Wikipedia
Photo Wikipedia

3. Tracing a Precious Relic of the Titanic(28 Nov 2013,New York Times)
A hundred years later, the solid gold Waltham pocket watch, purchased in 1907 and engraved with the initials J.J.A., has become an object of controversy. John Miottel, a collector in California, says he bought it 15 years ago. But in March an heir of the Astor family announced that he owned a watch carried by John Jacob Astor IV at the time of his death, according to reports published in The New York Post, The Daily Mail of London and elsewhere. Mr. Miottel, a real estate investor in Northern California who collects luxury ocean-liner memorabilia, said in a phone interview that he bought the Astor watch “in 1997 in a small auction house in Asheville, North Carolina, around the 85th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking when all the Titanic fans were celebrating aboard the Queen Mary in California.” “The ironic thing is that almost nobody, including the Astor Foundation, knew about this watch at the time,” added Mr. Miottel, who owns two other Titanic-related watches. “There would have been a lot more bidders if they had.”